Will Ferrell goes from racecar driver Ricky Bobby to figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels in “Blades of Glory,” a slapstick comedy about the first male-male figure skating pair.
Joining Ferrell is Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”) as Jimmy MacElroy, Chazz’s skating equal but social opposite. “Glory,” which opens nationwide today, is a moderately funny execution of this Ben Stiller-produced high concept.
As the story begins, Chazz and Jimmy stand atop the figure-skating world, even as both bring vastly different sensibilities to the sport. Chazz energizes any crowd with his sex-infused, manly take on skating, whereas the effeminate Jimmy’s technical brilliance and impeccability make him a darling in tights.
When a medal ceremony ends with Chazz and Jimmy brawling on the ice—and accidentally setting fire to the competition’s mascot—both are banned from the sport for life. But one of Jimmy’s obsessed fans finds a regulation loophole in paragraph G of section 14 that will allow Jimmy to skate again—in the pairs’ division.
By this genre’s logic, Chazz is the obvious choice for a partner. And so it is that Chazz and Jimmy unite as the first male-male pairs skating team under the coaching of Craig T. Nelson (star of the old sit-com “Coach”).
Co-directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon (the men behind those Geico insurance commercials featuring cavemen) play the figure-skating world—with all its celebrities, technicalities, costumes and drama—mostly for over-the-top laughs.
For example, Chazz and Jimmy’s main competition is the brother-sister pair of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (played by real-life married couple Will Arnett and Amy Poehler). The Van Waldenbergs are creepy-funny. But the filmmakers cross a line, I believe, in having the pair stage a routine featuring JFK skating with Marilyn Monroe and trying to get her to throw up her overdosed pills.
Poehler is a “Saturday Night Live” regular, and she’s just one of many familiar faces that appear. A who’s who of the skating world lined up for this one, including Nancy Kerrigan, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Brian Boitano and Sasha Cohen. Also on hand are Scott Hamilton and Jim Lampley as cliché-ridden announcers.
Will Ferrell fans will most likely enjoy their man playing the shallow Chazz Michael Michaels, whose rhetoric barely extends beyond fifth-grade remarks like, “You’re Cirque du so lame.”
Heder seems a bit underused here. While Heder does keep Jimmy firmly in line, there nevertheless seems to be something missing from this formula. That is partially remedied by Jimmy’s costumes—the first of which we see basically turns Jimmy into a peacock.
Chazz and Jimmy’s first performance delivers the movie’s main laughs, as it provides all the imaginable sight gags about two men skating together, doing lifts and throws, and just generally being inventive with postures, as pairs figure skaters are.
After that performance, it’s harder to sustain this comedy’s one note.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image, and some drug references. Reviewer’s Note: Lots and lots of sex-related jokes and remarks.
Directors: Will Speck & Josh Gordon
Writers: Jeff Cox & Craig Cox and John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky
Cast: Chazz Michael Michaels: Will Ferrell; Jimmy MacElroy: Jon Heder; Stranz Van Waldenberg: Will Arnett; Fairchild Van Waldenberg: Amy Poehler; Coach: Craig T. Nelson; Katie Van Waldenberg: Jenna Fischer; Darren MacElroy: William Fichtner.
The movie’s official Web site is here.